There are reports this morning that Phife Dawg, co-founder of influential hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, has died. The New York-born rapper, whose real name was Malik Isaac Taylor, was 45 years old.
The news was posted by DJ Chuck Chillout on Twitter just after 1 a.m. eastern time Wednesday morning, and music website Bluntiq just tweeted the following: “We’re saddened to report that Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest has passed away. RIP to the legend.” Others, like Aesop Rock, Steve Aoki, and El-P, have chimed in with condolences.
Taylor formed A Tribe Called Quest in 1985 with MC/producer Q-Tip and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The group is considered one of the pioneers of old-school hip-hop.
UPDATE 2:31 a.m.: Statik Selektah just tweeted: “Confirmed. rest in peace Phife. Man. I’m out.” Adds Chuck D., a little before 3 a.m.: “Phife-HipHop & Rap word Warrior, simple as that.Breathed it & lined rhyme into Sport.A true fire Social Narrator my bro #RIBeats ATCQforever”
UPDATE 11:01 a.m.: Rolling Stone reports that Taylor died “from complications resulting from diabetes”, and for years struggled with health issues relating to his illness. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2008.
Taylor’s family released the following statement on Wednesday afternoon: “We regret to share the news that on Tuesday March 22, 2016, Malik has passed away due to complications resulting from diabetes. Malik was our loving husband, father, brother and friend. We love him dearly. How he impacted all our lives will never be forgotten. His love for music and sports was only surpassed by his love of God and family.” Adds Taylor’s manager, Dion Liverpool: “While I mourn the loss of my best friend and brother, I also will celebrate his incredible life and contribution to many people’s ears across the world. Even with all his success, I have never met a person as humble as he. He taught me that maintaining a positive attitude and outlook can conquer anything. Now my brother is resting in greatness. I’m honored to have crossed paths with him. Riddim Kidz 4eva.”